Virginie Nguyen shares her testimonial and visual documentation of the Ramses violence on August 16, as she was covering it with fellow photographers and journalists.
When we arrived in Ramses Square Friday, we saw many people around Al-Fath Mosque. People told us that the police were stationed near the Azbakia Police Station, under the bridge, while some were on some buildings’ rooftops.
We moved on under the bridge and found people chanting against the police. We heard some supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi cheering for what seemed to be a destroyed police truck. But their cheering didn’t last long as the police responded with machine gun fire.
Shots were coming from everywhere, from below, from above. We knelt on the ground to avoid the bullets, like everyone else, but decided to change position altogether and run to the entrance of the metro station when bullets were almost hitting us.
When we escaped from under the bridge, a helicopter was hovering just above. Its door was open and a soldier was shooting at people under the bridge.
We then decided to go back to the mosque where the field hospital was.
We stayed there for about half an hour and saw injured people entering every few minutes.
We saw three people die from their wounds and we counted 45 dead bodies at that point.
When we came out of the mosque, we stood still for around 15 minutes to evaluate the danger.
A gas canister had landed at the main entrance of the mosque and it may have been thrown from the helicopter as there was no police or military line in sight from which it could have been fired at that point.
When we left the mosque, we went to a street near Ramses Square where clashes were raging between Brotherhood protesters and armed civilians seemingly from the area. They threw rocks at each other, but we also saw guns on both sides, used for around three rounds. Armed civilians from the anti-Brotherhood camp were also shooting birdshot. We left when one of us got hurt.